Wednesday, September 19, 2007
2theadvocate.com | News | Jena getting ready for massive crowd expected at march — Baton Rouge, LA: "NEW ORLEANS — With tens of thousands of protesters expected to march through a tiny central Louisiana town Thursday in defense of six black teenagers, Jena police and residents were busy Tuesday making plans. Estimates range as high as 60,000 marchers for the two-mile trek, which originally was to protest the conviction of Mychal Bell on second-degree battery charges. Bell could have been sent to prison for 15 years on that charge, but the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said Bell, who was 16 at the time of the alleged December 2006 beating of a Jena High school mate, should not have been tried as an adult. Bell is one of six black Jena High students charged in an attack on Justin Barker, who is white. Bell and four others were originally charged as adults with attempted second-degree murder. The charges were widely criticized as overly harsh. A sixth person was charged in the alleged assault as a juvenile. The group has become known as the “Jena 6.” Schools in Jena will close Thursday and many businesses in the town of 2,900 also say they will shut down, concerned about whether the march will remain peaceful."